Retailers are actively promoting cheese throughout their stores thanks to innovations by today's leading cheese marketers. For example, Vermont's Cabot Creamery, widely known and venerated for generations for its extra sharp Cheddar, has taken its award-winning expertise to the mild segment with the introduction of new Cabot Mild Reserve Cheddar. This gives retailers another consumer to target.



Retailers are actively promoting cheese throughout their stores thanks to innovations by today's leading cheese marketers. For example, Vermont's Cabot Creamery, widely known and venerated for generations for its extra sharp Cheddar, has taken its award-winning expertise to the mild segment with the introduction of new Cabot Mild Reserve Cheddar. This gives retailers another consumer to target. "Many of our customers prefer a milder Cheddar profile," says Rich Stammer, president and CEO of Cabot. "In fact, just over half of Cheddar sales nationally fall into the milder flavor category. Cabot Mild Reserve offers these customers a unique, naturally aged, premium Cheddar with a smooth taste that sets it apart from other cheeses."

Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, located in the self-proclaimed Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin (Ellsworth), has vacuum-packed its celebrated curds for nationwide distribution. When kept cool and unopened, Ellsworth's 100% Natural Aged Cheddar Cheese Curds retain shelflife for more than 14 months. The longer-life packaging makes curds, the quintessential Wisconsin cheese variety, conveniently available to cheese connoisseurs everywhere.



California's Sonoma Cheese Factory is producing gourmet, spreadable versions of its famous Jack cheeses. Sonoma Creamy Jack comes in four varieties: Original, Garlic & Herb, Jalapeno Pepper and Horseradish & Bacon.

DCI Cheese Co., Richfield, Wis., has added two new flavors to its gourmet line of Great Midwest Jacks: Buffaloblue Jack and Ranch Jack. Buffaloblue combines the flavor of hot wings and blue cheese to create a unique Great Midwest Jack cheese. Ranch Jack custom blends the tangy ingredients in ranch dressing to deliver one of the creamiest Jacks ever.



Here's something different. Brunkow Cheese Cooperative, Darlington, Wis., is producing Brun-uusto. This authentic version of Juustoleipa, which means "bread cheese," is a specialty cheese with Finnish and Swedish origins. Its characteristic sweet caramel crust is produced by a slow-baking process and has an appearance similar to toasted bread.



Bel/Kaukauna USA, the American subsidiary of Paris-based Fromageries Bel is marketing upscale cheese spreads under the Connoisseur® brand. There's a Swiss and Cheddar cheese wheel with bacon bits; Asiago and Cheddar cheese with pesto topped with cilantro; and Asiago and Cheddar cheese with roasted red peppers.



Visitors to Tillamook's website seeking details and the contest are also greeted by an animated cartoon with "Mac & Cheese" trading witticisms about Macaroni and Cheese.

Sidebar: Tillamook's Mac and Cheese Contest Back for Seconds

It's a year older and twice as big! Tillamook Cheese and McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants are poised to begin judging submissions for the 2006 Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Contest. Winners of local cook-offs in eight cities will mix it up (the ingredients, that is) for a chance to win $5,000, endless bragging rights and worldwide distribution of their winning recipe on the contest Web site.

Following last year's success, the 2006 contest expands to eight cities: Tillamook, San Francisco, Denver, Phoenix, Dallas, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles. Cooks will submit their favorite original macaroni and cheese recipes, which will be evaluated according to unique use of ingredients, taste and overall creativity. Three finalists in each city will prepare their dishes from scratch for local celebrity judges and culinary experts, who will lift their forks and clipboards to choose the standout cheesy noodle dish. The winners will receive $1,000 in cash, 25 lbs. of Tillamook cheese and dinner for four at their local McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant. The eight grand finalists will qualify to compete in Portland, Ore. in the grand final cook-off (all travel expenses paid).



Sidebar: Sargento Invests in New Look

Sargento Cheese, Plymouth, Wis., has a new look! The 52-year-old cheese company is at the forefront of creating new visual appeal in the cheese case. New Sargento packages, a uniform burgundy color scheme with scenic illustrations, are the result of a two-year research initiative to more deeply communicate brand identity. As a whole, the new color helps the package stand out at retail, making it easier for consumers to shop. Responding to consumer research that aided in the selection and refinement of the design system, the packaging also contains a larger window that helps showcase the all-natural cheese inside.

The Sargento tagline-Our Family's Passion is Cheese-was positioned on the front of the package to reinforce the Sargento family heritage, a factor also favored by consumers. The new look represents a departure from how most cheese marketers continue to use color cues to denote flavor, with blue indicating Cheddar and green denoting Italian flavors like mozzarella. The Sargento consumer research revealed that such color indicators did not carry meaning with consumers.

"Consumer research really opened the door for a more sophisticated and consistent approach," says Brad Flatoff, senior v.p. of marketing. "Our entry into owning the burgundy background is a great step forward, allowing a more unified brand block to take precedence."



At the same time, in a move that will save supermarkets and retailers both time and money, Sargento cheese is unveiling its inventive SargentoStick™-a peg merchandising tool designed to reduce labor costs and make stocking and restocking simpler and more efficient. Used in conjunction with its new break-apart cartons, Sargento's merchandising solutions will reduce stocking time by nearly 50%.

Keeping pegs stocked and rotating older product is typically a labor-intensive process. Product bags must first be sorted by hand, then aligned onto the peg and pushed into place, until pegs are fully stocked. Due to the time-consuming process, merchandise is not always restocked as often as necessary, resulting in a loss of sales revenue.

With the SargentoStick system, stocking is more time efficient. Sargento boxes are perforated to open easily and the cheese bags within are already aligned for pegging. By sliding the SargentoStick through the bags and aligning it with the end of the peg in the dairy case, bags can easily slide into place. The SargentoStick also simplifies the rotation of stock. By sliding older product off of the peg onto the SargentoStick, loading the opposite end of the stick with fresh product and rotating it to align and slide onto the peg, product is rotated in one easy motion.

"The SargentoStick program was developed in collaboration with and first tested at Wal-Mart stores in order to confirm stocking performance expectations," says Scott Hackbarth, group vice president of sales. "Stocking was completed in half the time. We're extremely pleased to expand this program to other select customers."